In this article in The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland argues that the riots aren't just a result of the financial crisis or the drama behind the phone hacking: it's an overall feeling of impotence from the people over leaders who have been unable to do much.
The most unsettling reports have been of policemen standing back, apparently powerless to stop people as they smash and burn and steal. It's deeply unnerving to see those we expect to protect us incapable and in retreat. Read the comment threads and Twitter feeds, with their demands that "this must stop", or even for looters to be "shot on sight", and you see the signs of impotent rage, the desperate desire for somebody to do something.
Meanwhile, The Guardian's Paul Lewis and James Harkin try to find out who the looters are, arguing that it isn't just the racialized, the unpriviledged or the underclassed, but everyone:
Jay Kast, 24, a youth worker from East Ham who has witnessed rioting across London over the last three nights, said he was concerned that black community leaders were wrongly identifying a problem "within".
"I've seen Turkish boys, I've seen Asian boys, I've seen grown white men," he said. "They're all out there taking part." He recognised an element of opportunism in the mass looting but said an underlying cause was that many young people felt "trapped in the system". "They're disconnected from the community and they just don't care," he said.
But why do people do this? The Research Digest website collected the opinions of various columnists and behavioural experts who are attempting to make sense of the anarchy. There are many theories, no two alike. In other words, they have no idea.
But perhaps the rioting, destruction and looting are simply the natural responses when formerly-wealthy countries try to lower their debt burdens and balance their budgets.
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